IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – YOU BET THERE IS!

                                                      

                                      

   220px-Keplers_supernova

During the past 20 posts I have tried to take you, the reader, through a technical journey of feasibility of space travel to the stars. I believe this will be possible by the mid 22nd century and that the necessary technologies will have been developed by then.

But why go to the stars? The simple answer is because they are there! Mankind has always strived to conquer the four corners of the Earth, has visited the Moon and will in the next few decades land on Mars.

But ultimately we may have to find another habitable planet. Look at the damage we are doing to our own ‘home’ because we are not taking the environmental issues seriously. Look at the population explosion and the many factions on this planet that are focussed on its destruction. I fear for the future of our world during the next couple of centuries. hs-2009-25-e-web

But the big question is still – is there life elsewhere? – And I am utterly convinced there is. I am sure we will soon discover evidence in our own solar system of relatively simple life-forms that existed [on Mars] or may exist now in the sub-surface oceans of Titan, Saturn’s moon. But what about life as we see it all around us? There could be a billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in the Universe. I have shown how the building blocks for life have been formed in the furnaces of dying stars and then flung to all parts of the cosmos during Supernovae.

In pure numbers terms, life must have evolved elsewhere – but what would it look like? If there had not been an asteroid collision 66 million years ago on Earth then this blog might be being written by a highly intelligent dinosaur! 

In our humanoid form we have evolved over the last 200,000 years but look what we have done in the last 200 years and where we might be in a further couple of centuries. But our timescale is minute compared to the age of the Universe – what if, somewhere, intelligent ‘life’ has evolved for millions or even hundreds of millions of years? How sophisticated might that be! Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump

I have imagined how life, similar to our own, might have evolved at a nearby star. I have also ‘imagined the unimaginable’ – what if something has evolved for hundreds of millions of years – what might that be capable of? This is the basis for my trilogy – Quest of the Dicepterons – and the first two volumes – The Blue People of Cloud Planet and Disaster Earth set the scene for an amazing journey of discovery. Volume 3 – The Quanoxy Zeric Galaxy is currently being written.                                                                           

                                                                                                 

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IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – THE HABITABLE ZONE

     

                                                

                                   imagesCAX9UKMI

  

In the last post I hope I explained how all the elements and building blocks for life came from the death throes of exploding stars. But having produced these ingredients and flung them far and wide throughout the cosmos, we are still a long way from producing life.

The key basic elements for life [as we know it] are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. These give us a protective  atmosphere around a planet, water – the key medium in which life first started and the more complex amino acids and proteins that are in every life form.

But although these elements were carried to billions of planets in billions of galaxies, life could only form if a very special set of circumstances were met.

The first of these is the position of the planet within the solar system of a particular star – the habitable zone.

habitable zone

 

Basically this is defined as a range of distance from the star where water can exist on the surface of a planet, or below the surface, in one or more of its forms – ice, liquid water, water vapour or steam. But crucially the planet must be able to hold on to this water for the millions of years necessary for life to form and evolve.

Our solar system gives us a good example of the habitable zone which stretches from the orbits of Venus to that of Mars. Outside of these orbits is Mercury which is so near the Sun that water cannot remain on its surface because of its high temperatures. Outside of Mars orbit we have planets that are either gas giants e.g. Jupiter or cold rocky planets far from a recognised habitable area.

Situated in the most perfect position with respect to its star is Earth where temperature, the presence of an atmosphere and an abundance of liquid water have resulted in the most amazing diversity of life.


ku-mediumBut being in the right position i.e. in the habitable zone, does not guarantee life or sustained life. The planet must be able to hold on to its life making elements and protect itself against solar radiation.

The best examples of this are Earth and Mars, both within the habitable zone but one is bristling with life whereas the other is a dusty rocky planet. However, about 4 billion years ago Mars had extensive water on its surface and a reasonable atmosphere and life may have formed in a primitive way. I hope the current Mars rover will find incontrovertible proof of this.

Channels_near_Warrego_in_Thaumasia

So what happened? In simple terms, Earth held onto its water and atmosphere whereas Mars did not. Earth’s iron core generates a magnetosphere which deflects the damaging solar radiation [see previous post]. However Mars has no protective shell and the result of the continuous solar bombardment was to slowly strip away the atmosphere and then the liquid water. Now there are small amounts of ice at the poles and below the surface and very little atmosphere. If life did form on Mars the evidence will be below the surface.

There may be life outside the habitable zone in our Solar System. Saturn’s moon, Titan has an atmosphere and oceans below the surface. So it has water and there is every chance that life may have formed and evolved below the surface.

23feadc52dce4190bae4aa1fce6db955

So “is there life elsewhere?” – You bet there is!

Why not take a journey with Olivia Medici and Scott Parker to the star Seren and learn how I envisage that life may have evolved elsewhere. Be prepared to discover the unimaginable!                                                                                

                                                                                                 

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IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – WE ARE STARDUST!

   

                                                  

            hs-2012-35-b-web                                     

  

In the last post I talked about The Big Bang – a cataclysmic event 13.8 billion years ago which resulted in all the matter we see [and don’t see] in the Universe. But how did this lead to us and all the life on this remarkable planet called earth?

The surprising answer is that every atom in our bodies, all the elements that form everything we see and touch were produced in the incredible furnaces of dying stars! And those same atoms and elements will be returned to the cosmos when our star, the Sun, eventually collapses and explodes – but not for 7 billion years when it will run out of fuel. 

So let us consider the life of a star because they have been birthing and dying since about a billion years after the Big Bang and we are currently waiting to see the death throes of a nearby star – but more on that later in this post. 

Galaxies have been forming since about 500 million years after the Big Bang and our own galaxy, The Milky Way, is estimated to be 13.2 billion years old. It contains 300 billion stars.

Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump

Stars are formed in a process where dense regions within molecular clouds in interstellar space, normally called stellar nurseries, collapse into spheres of plasma to form stars. They comprise mostly hydrogen with some helium. Hydrogen is the main fuel source for all stars including our sun. Temperatures and pressures are so high at the centre of stars that the hydrogen is converted into helium with the release of energy in the form of radiation. We see this as light and heat but there are many other kinds of radiation [mostly dangerous] bombarding our planet.

The sun burns a staggering 600 million tonnes of hydrogen every second! But do not worry because even at this rate our Sun will last for 7 billion years. But we only have the elements hydrogen and helium [the lightest] at this stage so where do our building blocks for life eg carbon, oxygen, nitrogen etc. come from? The answer lies in the death of stars – when the fuel eventually runs out the star firstly expands into a red giant and then collapses in on itself producing one the most spectacular events in the solar system – a Supernova.

220px-Keplers_supernova

star

Supernova occur on average 3 times per year in the Milky Way but the last observed was in 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova. So stars are dying with regular frequency in ours and all the galaxies. But why is this critical to us? When a massive star collapses the temperatures and pressures at the centre dramatically rise causing fusion of hydrogen and helium atoms to form heavier elements. Thus carbon, oxygen, nitrogen [the lighter elements] are produced in abundance with smaller amounts of heavier elements [silicon, iron] and trace quantities of the really heavy elements [the hardest to make] eg gold. But the whole periodic table of elements [98 naturally occurring] is produced. Then the core explodes in the most dramatic event [other than the Big Bang] and all this newly produced matter is flung out into interstellar space where it is carried to other stars and their orbiting planetary systems.

Thus the building blocks for life on Earth arrived as the residue of dying stars – our origins are truly Stardust!

However getting the elements to a planet is one thing. Building them into life needs a very special set of circumstances which I will talk about in the next post.

250px-Position_Alpha_Ori

ps – astronomers are eagerly awaiting the next visible Supernova and the most likely candidate is the 2nd brightest star in Orion and visible to the naked eye – Betelgeuse – a red supergiant. The best estimates for this to happen is within the next million years! So do not get your hopes up within our lifetimes. However it may have already blown up. It is about 640 light years from Earth so if it happened now the evidence would not be seen until 2653 – I wonder what our world would look like then and would we still be about to see it? Or maybe we will have already colonised other stars – we will have to eventually!

So fasten seat belts and take a journey to the star, Seren – what will you discover?                                                                                 

                                                                                                 

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IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – YOU BET THERE IS!

                                                      

                                      

   220px-Keplers_supernova

During the past 20 posts I have tried to take you, the reader, through a technical journey of feasibility of space travel to the stars. I believe this will be possible by the mid 22nd century and that the necessary technologies will have been developed by then.

But why go to the stars? The simple answer is because they are there! Mankind has always strived to conquer the four corners of the Earth, has visited the Moon and will in the next few decades land on Mars.

But ultimately we may have to find another habitable planet. Look at the damage we are doing to our own ‘home’ because we are not taking the environmental issues seriously. Look at the population explosion and the many factions on this planet that are focussed on its destruction. I fear for the future of our world during the next couple of centuries. hs-2009-25-e-web

But the big question is still – is there life elsewhere? – And I am utterly convinced there is. I am sure we will soon discover evidence in our own solar system of relatively simple life-forms that existed [on Mars] or may exist now in the sub-surface oceans of Titan, Saturn’s moon. But what about life as we see it all around us? There could be a billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and there are billions of galaxies in the Universe. I have shown how the building blocks for life have been formed in the furnaces of dying stars and then flung to all parts of the cosmos during Supernovae.

In pure numbers terms, life must have evolved elsewhere – but what would it look like? If there had not been an asteroid collision 66 million years ago on Earth then this blog might be being written by a highly intelligent dinosaur! 

In our humanoid form we have evolved over the last 200,000 years but look what we have done in the last 200 years and where we might be in a further couple of centuries. But our timescale is minute compared to the age of the Universe – what if, somewhere, intelligent ‘life’ has evolved for millions or even hundreds of millions of years? How sophisticated might that be! Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump

I have imagined how life, similar to our own, might have evolved at a nearby star. I have also ‘imagined the unimaginable’ – what if something has evolved for hundreds of millions of years – what might that be capable of? This is the basis for my trilogy – Quest of the Dicepterons – and the first two volumes – The Blue People of Cloud Planet and Disaster Earth set the scene for an amazing journey of discovery. Volume 3 – The Quanoxy Zeric Galaxy is currently being written.                                                                           

                                                                                                 

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IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – THE HABITABLE ZONE

     

                                                

                                   imagesCAX9UKMI

  

In the last post I hope I explained how all the elements and building blocks for life came from the death throes of exploding stars. But having produced these ingredients and flung them far and wide throughout the cosmos, we are still a long way from producing life.

The key basic elements for life [as we know it] are hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon. These give us a protective  atmosphere around a planet, water – the key medium in which life first started and the more complex amino acids and proteins that are in every life form.

But although these elements were carried to billions of planets in billions of galaxies, life could only form if a very special set of circumstances were met.

The first of these is the position of the planet within the solar system of a particular star – the habitable zone.

habitable zone

 

Basically this is defined as a range of distance from the star where water can exist on the surface of a planet, or below the surface, in one or more of its forms – ice, liquid water, water vapour or steam. But crucially the planet must be able to hold on to this water for the millions of years necessary for life to form and evolve.

Our solar system gives us a good example of the habitable zone which stretches from the orbits of Venus to that of Mars. Outside of these orbits is Mercury which is so near the Sun that water cannot remain on its surface because of its high temperatures. Outside of Mars orbit we have planets that are either gas giants e.g. Jupiter or cold rocky planets far from a recognised habitable area.

Situated in the most perfect position with respect to its star is Earth where temperature, the presence of an atmosphere and an abundance of liquid water have resulted in the most amazing diversity of life.


ku-mediumBut being in the right position i.e. in the habitable zone, does not guarantee life or sustained life. The planet must be able to hold on to its life making elements and protect itself against solar radiation.

The best examples of this are Earth and Mars, both within the habitable zone but one is bristling with life whereas the other is a dusty rocky planet. However, about 4 billion years ago Mars had extensive water on its surface and a reasonable atmosphere and life may have formed in a primitive way. I hope the current Mars rover will find incontrovertible proof of this.

Channels_near_Warrego_in_Thaumasia

So what happened? In simple terms, Earth held onto its water and atmosphere whereas Mars did not. Earth’s iron core generates a magnetosphere which deflects the damaging solar radiation [see previous post]. However Mars has no protective shell and the result of the continuous solar bombardment was to slowly strip away the atmosphere and then the liquid water. Now there are small amounts of ice at the poles and below the surface and very little atmosphere. If life did form on Mars the evidence will be below the surface.

There may be life outside the habitable zone in our Solar System. Saturn’s moon, Titan has an atmosphere and oceans below the surface. So it has water and there is every chance that life may have formed and evolved below the surface.

23feadc52dce4190bae4aa1fce6db955

So “is there life elsewhere?” – You bet there is!

Why not take a journey with Olivia Medici and Scott Parker to the star Seren and learn how I envisage that life may have evolved elsewhere. Be prepared to discover the unimaginable!                                                                                

                                                                                                 

button (6)

button (7)

button (8)

                                    

                 

IS THERE LIFE ELSEWHERE? – WE ARE STARDUST!

   

                                                  

            hs-2012-35-b-web                                     

  

In the last post I talked about The Big Bang – a cataclysmic event 13.8 billion years ago which resulted in all the matter we see [and don’t see] in the Universe. But how did this lead to us and all the life on this remarkable planet called earth?

The surprising answer is that every atom in our bodies, all the elements that form everything we see and touch were produced in the incredible furnaces of dying stars! And those same atoms and elements will be returned to the cosmos when our star, the Sun, eventually collapses and explodes – but not for 7 billion years when it will run out of fuel. 

So let us consider the life of a star because they have been birthing and dying since about a billion years after the Big Bang and we are currently waiting to see the death throes of a nearby star – but more on that later in this post. 

Galaxies have been forming since about 500 million years after the Big Bang and our own galaxy, The Milky Way, is estimated to be 13.2 billion years old. It contains 300 billion stars.

Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump Ghostscript 24 bit color image dump

Stars are formed in a process where dense regions within molecular clouds in interstellar space, normally called stellar nurseries, collapse into spheres of plasma to form stars. They comprise mostly hydrogen with some helium. Hydrogen is the main fuel source for all stars including our sun. Temperatures and pressures are so high at the centre of stars that the hydrogen is converted into helium with the release of energy in the form of radiation. We see this as light and heat but there are many other kinds of radiation [mostly dangerous] bombarding our planet.

The sun burns a staggering 600 million tonnes of hydrogen every second! But do not worry because even at this rate our Sun will last for 7 billion years. But we only have the elements hydrogen and helium [the lightest] at this stage so where do our building blocks for life eg carbon, oxygen, nitrogen etc. come from? The answer lies in the death of stars – when the fuel eventually runs out the star firstly expands into a red giant and then collapses in on itself producing one the most spectacular events in the solar system – a Supernova.

220px-Keplers_supernova

star

Supernova occur on average 3 times per year in the Milky Way but the last observed was in 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova. So stars are dying with regular frequency in ours and all the galaxies. But why is this critical to us? When a massive star collapses the temperatures and pressures at the centre dramatically rise causing fusion of hydrogen and helium atoms to form heavier elements. Thus carbon, oxygen, nitrogen [the lighter elements] are produced in abundance with smaller amounts of heavier elements [silicon, iron] and trace quantities of the really heavy elements [the hardest to make] eg gold. But the whole periodic table of elements [98 naturally occurring] is produced. Then the core explodes in the most dramatic event [other than the Big Bang] and all this newly produced matter is flung out into interstellar space where it is carried to other stars and their orbiting planetary systems.

Thus the building blocks for life on Earth arrived as the residue of dying stars – our origins are truly Stardust!

However getting the elements to a planet is one thing. Building them into life needs a very special set of circumstances which I will talk about in the next post.

250px-Position_Alpha_Ori

ps – astronomers are eagerly awaiting the next visible Supernova and the most likely candidate is the 2nd brightest star in Orion and visible to the naked eye – Betelgeuse – a red supergiant. The best estimates for this to happen is within the next million years! So do not get your hopes up within our lifetimes. However it may have already blown up. It is about 640 light years from Earth so if it happened now the evidence would not be seen until 2653 – I wonder what our world would look like then and would we still be about to see it? Or maybe we will have already colonised other stars – we will have to eventually!

So fasten seat belts and take a journey to the star, Seren – what will you discover?                                                                                 

                                                                                                 

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